Fast forward your life 10 years. Blink and you’ll be in a different time and season than you are right now. With that picture in your mind, let me ask you this — what do you want your child to believe about you? What will they find noteworthy, irreplaceable and be grateful for? What will they say about your parenting?
I often ponder the fact that I am uniquely appointed and graced to parent my own children, not everyone else’s. No one else in the whole world can replace me in their lives. I believe that I am divinely called to be their “mum”. How I handle this calling is up to me. Each day, and sometimes each hour of that day, I am making decisions that will shape their lives forever.
Building a strong relationship with our children is something to which we all aspire. There is nothing better than watching a parent at their best. In fact, I learn a lot from watching parents!
In this article I want to propose four ways to build a strong relationship with your child, no matter what the age, based on four parents I have met and admired.
4 ways to build a strong relationship with your child
Tip 1: Let your go-to phrase be “they can handle it”
I learned this from Judy, a mother of five children, who didn’t wrap her kids up in cotton wool but served life to them exactly the way it was, without hesitation or second guessing herself.
“Next time you are tempted to make excuses for your child’s bad behaviour, backchat, emotional outburst or tantrums remind yourself that they aren’t fragile. They can control themselves,” she says.
“Too often we make excuses for our children when we shouldn’t. We have to have full confidence that our kids are strong enough to cope with anything life throws at them including their emotions. If we rescue them from tough situations and feelings they will never feel that confidence”.
Tip 2: Let them choose if they want to wear shoes or not
I learned this from Lisa, a mum who had a really difficult time with her middle child but came out the other side of the teenage years with great advice for other mums.
“Our children have so many big decisions ahead of them. In some instances, the outcome of these decisions will literally shape the course of their future,” she says.
“This is a weight which lies far heavier on parents than on teenagers. I don’t want the first decision my kids make (independently) to be a life-changing one, like should I get into the car with someone who has been drinking? If they have never felt the consequences of little decisions they won’t know how to make big decisions. That’s why THEY choose whether they wear thongs to walk across a hot road or not”.
Tip 3: Accept them for who they are not who you want them to be
I learned this from Pam, a mum who had to significantly adjust her expectations during the primary school years due to her daughter having a learning disability.
“My greatest delight and joy will be to see my children reach their potential and grow into the adults they are designed to be,” she says.
“The hard work of the primary school years is discovering who your child is, their strengths and weaknesses and shortcomings. Parents are often adjusting their expectations, and determining how much pressure to put on or not put on their weaknesses to encourage growth.
“Acceptance, including carefully chosen words when disciplining, are all critical in helping our children grow with strength”.
Tip 4: Stay on the fun side of the island
I learned this from a mum, whose name I can’t even remember! She used to light up our waiting room with her smile and jokes even though her son was going through a tough time.
“No one enjoys being around someone who isn’t happy, not even our kids. As adults we often walk around with the weight of the adult world on our shoulders and we don’t have time or interest in childish things,” she says.
“Our schedules are jam-packed with adult pressures and cares. As a result, we get boring.
When we are all stressed it’s a recipe for disaster. It takes hard work to stay on the fun side of the island but when we do it goes a LONG way”.